Working Definitions

Thriving Youth

Young adult success is organized around three key factors:

  1. Agency – how a young person poised for success interacts with the world
  2. Integrated Identity – the internal compass that they use to make decisions consistent with their values, beliefs, and goals
  3. Competencies – how they are able to be effective in different tasks.

Development is nurtured in the context of strong supportive and sustained developmental relationships with adults and peers. Theobstacles to following a successful path to adulthood and the opportunities available to young people vary greatly by the contexts they inhabit. Larger contextual factors of society, the economy and institutions (such as schools) play a central role in the inequitable opportunities afforded to young people, as well as in their ability to see opportunities as viable options and take advantage of them. Thus, there is a fundamental tension between preparing children to live in the world that is often cast as a tacit acceptance of a profoundly unjust status quo and equipping them to face, navigate, and challenge the inequitable distributions of resources and access that so often limit their opportunities and constrain their potential.

Adapted from the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research’s Foundations for Young Adult Success Framework.

Structural Inequity and Racism

Structural inequity and racism are not simply the result of private prejudices held by individuals, but are also produced and reproduced by laws, rules, and practices, sanctioned and even implemented by various levels of government, and embedded in the economic system as well as in cultural and societal norms. Confronting inequity and racism, therefore, requires not only changing individual attitudes, but also transforming and dismantling the policies and institutions that undergird the U.S. racial and social hierarchies.

Adapted from the New England Journal of Medicine.

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